Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins

“Because sometimes things happen to people and they’re not equipped to deal with them.”

The second book in Collins’ series (the Hunger Games series) sees Katniss and Peeta re-enter the Hunger Games arena to fight to the death again. But this time, they are more prepared and, it appears, the enemy is no longer other contestants but a much bigger and stronger army, the Capitol.

The book is a lot slower to get going as a lot of time is spent on the build-up to Games. Whereas in the first book we were in the actual arena and fighting by Chapter 11, in Catching Fire, it’s not until Chapter 19 that we begin the fight. Some would say that the build-up, while exciting and tense, was not actually necessary. They are wrong. The build-up is essential in this book, even if it is 18 chapters long. These 18 chapters show the emotional toil that the Games have on people. Haymitch proves to be an important and guiding character and his feelings of possibly going back into the Games or mentoring Peeta and Katniss again show how damaged he is. These feelings set up for the end of the book and for the last book, in showing that, strictly speaking, this series might not end as happily as we may have been expecting.

“As the alcohol overcomes my (Katniss) mind, I hear the glass bottle shatter on the floor. This seems appropriate since I have obviously lost my grip on everything.”

Katniss suffers deeply in this book. After the first book, we feel that she is a strong woman who can deal with whatever comes at her. But this book shows not only her vulnerable side but also her deep and possibly fatal faithfulness to Peeta and her family. As her physical strength begins to overpower Peeta’s, she becomes his protector once again. And after a drunken deal with Haymitch to protect Peeta, it seems that possibly only he will come out alive.

“I can never settle the balance owed between us.”

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